Google penalties can be a major setback, but regardless of why your site gets hit, it’s vital that you take quick and aggressive action to recover your organic search rankings.
If your site has been penalized, don’t panic! With the right tools and a thorough process, you can get back in the game and continue to excel in SERPs. These tools for penalty recovery can help you get out — and stay out — of the Google penalty box.
1. Fetch As Google
Fetch as Google is a handy feature of Google Webmaster Tools that allows you to simulate how Google crawls or renders a URL on your site, then gives you the option to submit that URL to the index.
Fetch as Google has different Googlebot types you can choose from, including Desktop and Mobile: Smartphone. Once you’ve chosen your Googlebot, you can then “Fetch and Render” the URL, which will give you details on the URL’s HTTP response, the page download speed, and how Google sees your page (vs. how browsers see it).
This is a great (and quick) tool to use to detect basic errors (e.g. whether your URL being redirected or blocked by robots.txt) and also to see the response time of your server.
2. Screaming Frog Web Crawler
Penalty recovery needs to start with a thorough assessment of the whole site. To fight a Google penalty, it is crucial to know exactly what has caused it. Screaming Frog Web Crawler crawls a site and finds problems such as thin or duplicate content, dead ends, internal redirects and other common issues.
If you think you have been penalized, you need to invest in a good “spider” to crawl through your entire site before taking any action.
Screaming Frog can handle large sites that would be impractical to check manually, making it a favorite choice of many SEO pros.
3. Majestic SEO
When facing Google penalties, it’s important to have a good understanding of your own link profile. Link intelligence tools like Majestic SEO can also help you analyze the link profile of your (and your competitors’) sites.
Many Google penalties have to do with bad backlinks, and Majestic is especially helpful for cleaning up your site’s backlink profile. It can also give you a detailed report on anchor text, with red flags for over-optimization and other problems. Once you know about your exact trust rating, you can take steps to improve it and maintain it.
Ahrefs is a popular tool suite for finding bad links. It’s one of the most effective tools for inbound link analysis and detailed backlink reports. It can tell you the overall quality of the domains involved, and it can point out specific problems with individual backlinks that might be spammy or unnatural.
The Ahrefs index of links is based on data from more than a trillion connections. It is updated several times per hour to keep you up to date on the most recent developments. Ahrefs is also a good tool for pointing out problems with your anchor text.
5. Monitor Backlinks
Another nifty tool for finding bad backlinks is Monitor Backlinks. After importing your links from Google Webmaster Tools into Monitor Backlinks, you can then look for your dofollow backlinks (since Google supposedly ignores any nofollow links).
From there, you can use the filters to switch to external and then manually verify the backlinks. Be aware that a lot of your bad links can come from blog comments.
Some Google penalties are inflicted for duplicate content. Accidental duplication through negligence is just as strongly penalized by Google as deliberate plagiarism. If you suspect that you might be dealing with a content-based penalty, Copyscape can help you figure out whether any of your content exists elsewhere online.
This tool is cheap and simple to use, although it may be inconvenient because each individual URL needs to be entered in one at a time.
7. Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History
This one isn’t so much a “tool” as it is a great reference for diagnosing algorithmic issues. Google changes its algorithms hundreds of times every single year. Everyone knows about big updates, such as Penguin and Panda, but it can be hard to keep track of smaller updates.
Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History page is a valuable tool for finding out what might have gone wrong with your site after an unexpected drop in traffic. It’s important to know about the limitations of this resource, though. For one, it only includes confirmed updates, not unannounced/speculated updates. It also ignores minor changes that are not likely to impact sites seriously.
8. Google Webmaster Tools
While this may seem obvious, Google Webmaster Tools is a vital (if not the most vital) resource for every site. It’s the only real way to know how Google sees your site.
Google Webmaster Tools will notify you directly about any manual penalties Google has imposed. If you see that a manual action has been taken against your site, you’ll know that you need to work to get rid of duplicate content, disavow spammy backlinks, fix broken links, etc.
A visit to the Google penalty box doesn’t have to hurt your site in the long run. With these valuable tools, you can get back in the game and achieve higher search engine rankings.